The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya
by Nagaru Tanigawa
Book 5 of Haruhi Suzumiya light novel series
Japan Release: 2004 -- Kadokawa Shoten
U.S. Release: 2011 -- Little, Brown Books
English translation by Chris Pai
Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Humor, Contemporary
The fifth installment of the Haruhi Suzumiya universe light novel series is an anthology of three short stories, each preceded by a short preface. Once again told in the perspective of our lazy, high school boy with a streak of snarkiness, the narration is enjoyable and snort-worthy at times.
But I have to say that after the fourth book, I feel like Kyon’s lost a bit of his snark and has actually grown quite soft towards Haruhi. I don’t know whether to take that as a good sign or a bad one, but we also note that he’s grown quite an attachment to all of his brigade members. He’s always worshipped Asahina, and there’s a silent, reluctant companionship between him and Koizumi.
But now he seems to have developed more of an understanding of Haruhi. And on top of that, he seems to have picked up a big brotherly concern for Nagato and how she has to constantly deal with all the big messes left in the wake of Haruhi’s irrational demands and behaviors, whether or not Haruhi meant for things to happen and whether or not she was even responsible for strange occurrences.
1. Endless Eight
In the first short story in The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyon details a strange summer vacation during their first year of high school. Everything seemed like a typical Haruhi Suzumiya motivated “good ol’ time” wherein the Brigade Chief calls everyone out for a meeting so that they can make the most of the rest of their summer.
Of course, once again, Kyon can’t keep up with Haruhi’s enthusiasm nor her logic (or lack thereof). But you have to admit that it’s nice to have someone pulling all the strings to get some activity going when you’re young and you seem to have all the time in the world.
The latter half of August, right before the beginning of the next term, Haruhi has listed activities from going to the pool, to watching fireworks, attending a festival, and star-gazing. It pretty much sounds like a neverending time of fun-filled activity.
Until Kyon’s random flashes of strong deja vu proves that this is indeed a neverending duration of time. The rest of the brigade members call him out to explain that his sense of deja vu is actually significant. And according to our Mastermind of an Alien Being, Nagato (whose job is only to observe, by the way), the group has gone through the same two weeks of August over ten thousand times, in several thousand variations of activities and directions, and are somehow caught in an endless time loop, caused by noneother than Haruhi Suzumiya herself. Of course, she doesn’t know this is happening.
This is further confirmed by our Time Traveler, Asahina, who cannot make contact with the future, because, naturally, when you’re stuck in an endless time loop, there is no future. Naturally…
Their only conclusion is that Haruhi must have created this closed-space like time loop because there is something she still isn’t satisfied with about her summer vacation. And so, in order to satisfy this unknown factor, she has unknowingly fixated on the summer vacation never ending.
So it is our hero’s job to determine what it is that must be done to break the time loop, and save the day. As per usual. With all his snark and lazy high school boy attitude present.
I recall watching the second season of the anime series for Haruhi Suzumiya and finding myself increasingly confused about the several episodes adapted to tell the Endless Eight story. While it was part curiosity that had me viewing the episodes (there were eight of them) with the same plots over and over again with slight variations, I have to admit that it DID manage to start get annoyingly boring. In contrast, the way the story is written in the light novel is a little easier to stomach--we only have to go through the time loop once with explanations abound!
Of course, this wasn’t one of my favorite Haruhi Universe short stories. But it does still reflect a lot of the typical Haruhi Suzumiya elements that I love.
2. The Day of Sagitarrius
This short story takes place during the autumn sometime after the school’s cultural festival (not that that’s important). The SOS Brigade is challenged to an outer space duel… or something like that. Basically, if we recall from the first Haruhi Suzumiya book, when Haruhi created her own personal club, she did it in a rather imperialistic fashion: barging in and commandeering the Literary Club’s club room, dragging unsuspecting members into the room and locking them in, and finally procuring a computer through extortion from the Computer Society next door.
Well, now the Computer Society is back with a plan for vengeance. As computer clubs are wont to do, the Computer Society has created their own space invasion type game, much like an MMO of sorts, but in 2D called The Day of Sagittarius 3. Each side gets five fleets of ships and they do battle in unmapped territory in space until one team or the other is defeated. The game sounds simple enough, and as per Haruhi Suzumiya standards, of course, outrageous stakes are at hand.
Mainly, Kyon surmises that they really have nothing to lose and he feels like they’re going to lose anyway. The Computer Society gets to take back their computer if they win, the SOS Brigade gets four new laptops if they win.
The odds, of course, are a bit uneven.
This short story puts my personal favorite character of the Haruhi Suzumiya world on a pedestal, really. And I’m thinking that it had been this particular story I had seen as an episode of the anime that really cemented my love for Nagato. Because as little emotion as this alien being presents, it is one of few times you get to see her become passionate about something. As Kyon notes:
True, she was able to avoid showing any emotion on her face, but I had come to realize that she still had feelings.
Nagato had been the most passionate one in our [game] battle with the computer society [...] She looked more enthusiastic when she was punching away at the keyboard [...] it looked to me like she was somehow having fun [...]
The simple fact that, despite being a higher intelligence alien being, she voluntarily restricted her actions to human capabilities at Kyon’s request and still managed to silently win the game in an outstanding display of uber computer skills was pretty amazing. And in the end, despite everyone knowing that she was the mastermind behind the SOS Brigade’s victory, she still quietly sits there and reads her books without any fanfare.
3. Snowy Mountain Syndrome
The last short story in this Rampage anthology was probably the longest short story, but it was also surprisingly the most intriguing one. I can’t recall if I had seen an anime adaptation based off of Snowy Mountain Syndrome, but it’s likely. And so, fortunate, I don’t remember it if I’ve seen it.
A la the summer vacation on a remote island--Remote Island Syndrome from The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya, Volume Four of this light novel series--our SOS Brigade heads out on another fun vacation adventure, this time, on the titular snowy mountain. Unlike the last time, however, Koizumi has already confided that he has planned another “Murder Mystery” game much like the one that had taken place on the remote island.
And so amidst the wintery fun, skiing, and such, the group is ready to spend the end of the year playing along with another of Haruhi’s fun and games demands. At least this time, Kyon doesn’t expect anything supernatural to happen since Haruhi seems pretty content just to ski and participate in a pre-arranged “Snowy Mountain Mansion Murder Mystery Game”.
Of course, no Haruhi Suzumiya story is complete without some strange phenomena occurring; before the gang knows it, they are trapped in some strange eternal blizzard and find their way to an isolated mansion in the middle of nowhere. Stranger still, there are no phones or radios, no means of communication, but plenty of comfort in food, hot baths, and warm beds. To top things off, something doesn’t feel right about the situation, but our ever-powerful Nagato has been incapacitated.
And so it is up to Kyon with the help of Koizumi to figure out what is going on and how to fix it, or forever remain a prisoner of this strange time-space distorted reality.
It wasn’t like this was the most exciting story in the Haruhi Suzumiya world, but after getting to the halfway point, I just kept right on turning the pages and kept right on reading. There was definitely a sense of mystery and an urgency to solve said mystery; although the resolution felt a bit lukewarm, the overall story was quite enjoyable anyway.
Really, the only thing I have to say about this anthology was that it was entertaining in the same way the rest of the Haruhi Suzumiya books have been entertaining. While the concept and the world continues to intrigue me and draw me in, I’m still not at the point that I’d fangirl the heck out of this series.
Sure, the ideals are clever and the humor is evident; also, reading about a bunch of high school students who learn about more subjects that are vastly more complicated than I remember learning in high school makes me feel a bit inferior.
Heck, Leonhard Euler’s polyhedron theorem? An offhand reference to the Mary Celeste as a comparison to the abandoned mansion our SOS Brigade comes across? Even a lot of the computer and tech jargon and terminology spouted during The Day of Sagitarrius was enough to make my head spin.
This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):